The Hungarian GP is finally upon us. 70 laps of the Hungaroring to decide who heads into the summer break at the top of the championship.
Lewis Hamilton starts the race on pole position, having set the fastest time on his first lap in Q3. With a very long run into turn 1, Lewis needs to ensure he gets away from the line well to avoid being slipstreamed. Should he want to leave Hungary as championship leader he needs a win (assuming Max Verstappen finishes the race).
Valtteri Bottas put in a brilliant performance on Saturday, to outqualify Max Verstappen and secure an all Mercedes front-row lockout. He starts in the P2 grid slot which, assuming he gets a clean getaway, has the inside line into turn 1. Hamilton will likely angle his car towards Bottas as they line up to try and cut him off, but if Bottas can beat or match Lewis’ reaction time it’s entirely possible he’ll lead at the end of the first lap.
This of course is a weekend where Bottas needs a solid race to show Toto Wolff that he deserves to keep his Mercedes seat heading into 2022. He’s done all he can so far, and needs a strong race to back up his quali performance.
Max Verstappen starts in P3. A somewhat disappointing qualifying for the Dutchman, but by no means a bad grid spot. As mentioned, it’s a long drag to the first corner in Hungary and the slipstream is powerful. Even if Max fails to make progress heading into turn 1, turns 2 and 3 also provide opportunities for overtaking.
All the talk during the week has been about Max and Lewis’ Silverstone collision. While the fact Bottas is the meat in a Max/Lewis sandwich, a turn 1 collision cannot be ruled out by any means.
The current conditions in Hungary are heavy rain and thunder at the track itself, but this is meant to stop before the start of the race. We may see similar, drying, conditions to what we saw last year when Max famously went into the barriers on the lap to the grid. Nevertheless, I’m sure teams will have their wet and intermediate tyres on standby.
On paper, a two-stop is the quickest strategy, but there isn’t much in it. A one-stop could be just as effective, so expect different teams to try different strategies. Of course, the weather could throw all the teams plans up in the air, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Mercedes are the only team within the top 10 to start on the yellow marked medium tyre. This makes them vulnerable off the line, but also means they can go further into the race on the starting set of tyres. Red Bull will likely be relying on MAx jumping at least one of the Merc’s off the line, as the soft tyre supposedly gives you an extra 5m off the start.
Article will be updated when tyre sets available are released by Pirelli
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